Monday, October 24, 2016

Dress Your Age - Do or Don't?

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Yesterday, in the NYTimes Sunday Review, I read a terrific article by Julia Baird entitled "Don't Dress Your Age." In it, she points out the many, many ways in which women's appearances are policed as they get older, whether it be from well-meaning store clerks or magazine articles on how to disguise your widening middle or minimize your wobbly upper arms. I loved this line:
"We are also told to monitor our appearance in a way men are very rarely told to. Find me a man leafing through a magazine that tells him to upturn his collar to hide his neck wrinkles, and I will upturn it for him."
My first encounter with the question, "Am I dressing too young" came not with clothing, but with my hair, which I had colored since my gray became noticeable at the age of 26. After two decades, I was tired of the expense and the bother (not to mention having to touch up my roots every three weeks) and was ready to go natural. But I admit, part of my calculation to stop dying my hair was to allow myself to be gray before I looked too old. In other words, I hoped people would see my white hair and then my not-yet-wrinkled face and think it charming, rather than decrepit.

I'm fortunate to live with my 24- and 16-year-old daughters, who will always answer when I ask, "Is this too young for me?" Actually, they often encourage me to push the envelope a little more, which I appreciate. But I wonder: when did I absorb the lesson that I had to "dress appropriately?" That my hair might be too long, or my nail color too wild? I'm not talking about the kinds of imposed-from-without fashion trends many of us have voluntarily eschewed, like wearing high heels or trendy but uncomfortable cuts. I mean the voice in the back of your head which, if you're over 40, will ask you, "Isn't that a little too much?" as you look at yourself in the mirror. Does it sound like your mother? Maybe.

Men do not hear that voice. Men wear shorts and T-shirts identical to those worn my their five-year old grandsons. They don't switch from bikinis to one-piece swimsuits with skirts attached; they show up at the beach and let it all hang out, Or over. They don't cut their hair differently at twenty and at fifty - although there may be a lot more arranging to cover the bald spot going on. So why do we do it? Should we worry about being "mutton dressed as lamb?" Or, in the vein of Rhys deciding she's going to wear white clothing when she wants to, in season or not, should we all say the hell with it?

What say you, Reds? Have you ever had that "this is too young for me" moment? And what do you wear if you're not dressing your age?

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh I loved that article Julia! I had never heard of that awful expression--a mutton dressed as a lamb. I don't wear high heels, but that's because my feet hurt and has nothing to do with fashion. But maybe I am guilty of wearing what teenage girls might wear at home--jeans and a hoodie. I don't show my belly, but then I never did!

This summer we attended my nephew's wedding in Malibu--it was going to be a truly happy celebration, but we all stewed over what to wear in order not to shame ourselves in front of the LA crowd. (Trust me, you can't keep up with LA fashion, so it's best not to try.) Anyway, I came up with this dress and definitely brooded over whether I was too old to carry it off. Such a silly waste of good worrying! I'm ready to sign a pact saying, we are who we are, and we wear what we like and where we like it:)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I've certainly had the "too young for me" moment, many of them, and so relieved I thought so! Dresses that look like babydoll pajamas or cheerleader outfits, with random weird places cut out, or midriff showing (why?) or so low cut that you couldn't possibly sit down. It's embarrassing! Yes, I remember my mother cringing at my too-short skirts, which they were, I suppose, but I was sixteen! Still, and I don't mean to be judgmental, but some things are inappropriate. And there's nothing wrong with seeing that. It's about self-respect.

I don't think it's about age, I think it's about what makes you feel good, and what's appropriate for the situation. I have to look business-like for work, and wear suit-type things and high heels all the time. I'm comfortable, it's fun, I'm happy. I'm not much of a risk taker, but loved what I put together to be toastmaster at Malice. It's a dress and leather jacket. And my shoes were...well, great. They didn't show, but I knew they were there.

 That's what's fun about fashion and clothing. At ANY age. Wear what you love.

HALLIE EPHRON: Men's clothes are boring. It's so much more fun to be a woman. And yes, I once wore very (very) short skirts. Didn't my generation invent the micro-mini? With knee-high boots, of course. And no, I wouldn't wear that today, but more because now I dress for comfort. I'd be forever tugging at the hem and feeling a cool breeze up my behind. And boots? Am I the only person whose feet sweat?

Weddings are always a challenge. I have a wonderful little black dress (Yay, Eileen Fisher) that I wear to almost everything. I've got a black skirt of the same material I can wear under the dress to make the hem longer.The trick to making it work is accessories! I have a sequined dickey that makes it glamorous. My pink pearls for more sedate but classy. A paisley shawl for more casual.  Jackets, of course.

RHYS BOWEN: There are certain items of clothing that nobody over fifty should wear. Knees are not an attractive part of the female anatomy, especially as they get older and wrinkly. So why is every dress above the knee these days. I love dresses and can never find one that looks smart, well cut and finishes just below the knee. I don't like droopy mid calf and maxi dresses are hard to wear.

I don't like exposing any part of me that droops or wrinkles. So no bikinis for me. Oh and leggings. Nobody over sixteen should wear leggings without a long top or dress over them. I have settled on the tailored look and I have to say that I like most of Hilary's pantsuits. If I had time I'd start a clothing line for my age--not what male designers think women over fifty should look like but well tailored, smart, longer jackets,I used to wear Ralph Lauren a lot but recently he has gone younger and brighter than I like. I saw a Lauren dress this week that was above the knee, pink with brown and green flowers. Not me at all!  I have a couple of Eileen Fisher items but I don't look good in black or brown and her colors are all a bit drab for me.

I did buy a fabulous black silk tuxedo for an award ceremony this year. It looks great on me.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I don't worry too much about what is "age appropriate." On the other hand I'm not baring my midriff for anybody, but I don't see too many under-thirties that should be baring theirs, either. I do like my skirts above my knees, but maybe I should reconsider:-)

But while I think high heels were invented as a conspiracy against women, I'm a bit horrified to see that I am turning into my mother, who had trouble with her feet and for years wore leather lace-up walking shoes. You all have photos of cute outfits. I have shoes. I bought a pair of very pricey, supposedly VERY comfortable, boots for London, but I didn't have time to break them in. In my packing panic, I decided to leave my old, shabby, incredibly comfortable boots at home. You can probably guess the next bit.Two days in London and my feet hurt so much I thought I would die.

So I bought THESE and they are heaven. (You can't tell from the photo but they are actually more mauve than tan, so very funky.) My mom would have loved them. The good thing is that here in London most women of ANY AGE are either wearing trainers (tennis shoes in American) or something similar, because everybody walks, everywhere.

JULIA: Debs, you keep wearing short skirts if you like! I think that's the point of Baird's essay - not to wear what's suitable "for your age," but to wear what's suitable for you. How about you, dear readers? Do you think some looks are in or out based on your date of birth? Or should we all say to hell with it and dress like Iris Apfel?


  1. I’m cheering Julia Baird’s article and continuing to ignore the age-appropriate police . . . .
    I definitely belong to the “wear what you like” group, and tend toward being a conservative dresser only because I don’t feel comfortable in those loud patterns or those outfits with strange cut-outs.
    I think the clothing you choose to wear or the length or color of your hair should be what you have determined is right for you.

  2. Amen, Joan! My wardrobe is all about comfort with a dash of humor. Jeans, tee shirts, nice tops, yes. For work a professional looking pants suit. Gave up heels long ago, although the new styles are tempting me. I'd probably need those double bars from the physical therapy studio to learn to walk in 'em again. My style has always been conservative. Back in the day, Preppy. I think I still have my handbook someplace. Clothing has no age. If you're comfortable in it, flaunt it.

  3. I never was a fashionista or followed any fashion trends, so I'm not even sure what they consider age appropriate wear for women my age. But now that I'm retired, I am definitely veering more towards comfortable clothes. No more business suits and no high heels. But that does not mean wearing yoga pants and sweats either, at home or definitely not outside. I wear mostly jeans and khaki pants, nice t-shirts, nice tops, and definitely comfortable shoes since I walk @12-15 miles most days.

    Deb: Those ECCO shoes look comfy!

  4. And for those Reds who saw meet at NOLA, that was definitely a fashion aberration! Since it was so steamy hot and I was constantly travelling between my hotel, the French Quarter and elsewhere, I wore my summer workout-type clothes (quik dry tops and shorts) during most of that week. Only dressed for 2 nice dinners. But I will most likely wear my more normal clothes mentioned above for B'con 2017 in Toronto!

  5. Oh I have struggled with this question too - and as I got older and packed on weight I think I lapsed into not caring so much about what was me and going with what was good cover. Now I am losing weight and I am going back to what I liked to wear before, which is structured tailored clothing from my professional days before my stay-at-home mom days. I loved the late 80's and early 90's when long mid-calf pencil skirts were in. I want to wear more dresses (yes, preferably below the knees). I am not above wearing a long babydoll top over a pair of jean leggins - although more often I will throw a blazer over a tee shirt with my jeans. And I plan on keeping my long hair until I am 90, although I might let it go gray in my eighties!!

  6. Julia, your flowery pants are fab! Now that is a uniquely "Julia" look!

  7. Susanne, I used to wear those mid calf pencil skirts too when I worked as a psychologist. But a year or so ago my daughter informed me that mid-calf dresses and skirts don't flatter anyone:). Not sure she's right on that... But I would not want to return to the puffy sleeves and shoulder pads styles!

    Yes those pants are all Julia! and yes Debs, I want your shoes...

  8. I love Iris Apfel!! I went to a wedding recently, and at least 90% of the over 100 women wore black. (Me,too. I went safe with Eileen Fisher.) nobody looked like Iris, but once I got there I kinda wished I'd wore a dozen bracelets.

  9. Yeah, what she said. I do look a bit like a younger Iris, with lots of color and mixed prints, maybe ten bangles on my left wrist. Less is not more with me I'm just nor "classic". My favorite stores seem geared towards young, rich, tall, thin, boho chic women and have, say, a thousand items — I figure I can get away with 20 of them, so that's what I buy. I did see a woman about my age with a furry animal backpack, like children wear, and that was the first time I thought, wow, some things I really should away from.

  10. Oh, this is funny. I totally agree with Rhys about ugly knees! Only a toddler has cute knees. I have a 2-inch scar on one of mine from kneeling down on a spiral notebook--in the 6th grade! I usually camouflage mine with tights. But skirts above the knee work because you can actually walk in them. I can't walk in a longer pencil skirt, and if you are short (as I am) anything below the knee makes you look like a stump.

    For years, I hated 3/4 length sleeves. I thought they should be banned from the Earth. I still think that, but I have other battles to fight, so carry on with the sleeves.

    Hank, the first thing I noticed about you at Bouchercon were the blue shoes. Fabulous!

  11. Oh, thank you, Ramona! xoxoo

    Sleeves. Jackets keep having bracelet-cut sleeves, and I think it looks like someone forgot.

    And the thing about Iris Apfel--she was perfectly dressed. Everything was incredibly coordinated. That's the only way to get away with it--it looks random, but it's precisely matched.

    And yes, mid-calf is coming back. I think it's terrific with boots or very high heels.

    Tights tights tights make everything work--if your knees are covered with black tights, skirts can be much more risky. Longer, or shorter!

  12. It's the bare leg thing that drives me crazy.

    It's FREEZING!

    But tights don't always work. I don't hate pantyhose (ducking from stuff you're now throwing at me) and stockinged legs look so much better at work than goose bumpy bare legs. But they are not fashionable any more….

  13. Hank, I still wear panty hose, quite comfortably. When it's warm, leg spray. My naked legs are only seen at the beach.

  14. In defense of baring knees, I think below the knee skirts and dresses can cut you off at the shins and calves at a very awkward and unattractive angle, making it a draconian choice. But I'm not so worried about knees since I don't have to look at mine too often.

    The liberating moment for me, always a tailored-sometimes preppy-by choice dresser, came when I realized that what was most important for me is how clothes feel on your skin. I no longer flick through racks with my eyes, but with my hands. Especially when working long hours, some clothing just feels awful as the hours go on.

    And frankly, I think overly trendy, silly clothes look stupid at any age. But I am no fashionista, and loved Baird's article for letting us know we can all just do what we want.

  15. So many opportunities to stir up trouble here, I'm having a tough time choosing.

  16. I think some of the comments here have confirmed my mantra: find a look that is right for you, your signature look. I think we Reds each have a clear feel for who we are.
    And Debs, I'm a huge fan of Ecco shoes. Been wearing them for years. I hope your feet feel better now

  17. Fun group post! Lucy, I love that LA wedding outfit. So cute on you, and cool in the hot weather. I'm definitely not a fashionista and tend to wear pretty conservative author clothes as long as they are comfortable, but am also losing weight (by design) and looking forward to wearing short skirts (with tights at this time of year) again. Not high-school length, heaven forbid, and swingy, not tight. But it's a feeling I love, so why not?

  18. Hank, you always look fabulous. I wish I had a tenth of your style.

    I wore in tech, so it's very casual most days. Jeans. I like v-neck t-shirts that are a little more fitted (but not too fitted). I keep eyeing up bikinis but I can't get over the price tag of the ones that are well-made and the cheap ones look -- well, cheap.

    High heels? Used to love them, then developed the feet/ankle/knee issues and it's all flats.

    The Girl keeps me from looking "too old." "You're not really old, Mom. You should be stylish, with an edge. Nobody looks good in mom-jeans." She polices my haircuts, too. When I went to Bouchercon, she approved all my clothes and gave me makeup tips. "You've gotta look glam, Mom. It's your moment. Even flats can be cute." She keeps me from giving up. =) But my look? Comfort with style. Jeans, chinos, flats, sweaters, fitted button-downs, a funky knit shirt with a blazer. That's me.

    Oh Hank? Not a fan of the bare leg in winter thing either. Stockings or tights for me.

    My issue is trying to convince The Hubby that The Girl cannot wear what I wear - because she's 16 and I'm 40. She likes short skirts and high heels. He--thinking like a dad--hates it all. Le sigh.

  19. I spent 13 years in Catholic school uniforms, so I'm a bit sensitive about being told what to wear or not wear. If I want to bare my chubby midriff or my hairy legs I am going to do it now and forever and I will fight anyone who tries to stop me. Haters to the left.

  20. Debs, ECCO is my go-to brand! Esp if your feet are a bit, ahem, wide around the bunion. Julia, that outfit certainly makes a statement!

    Does anyone remember the Agatha Christie book in which Hercule P (or maybe Miss M?) realizes a suspect is pretending to be young after getting a good look at her knees?

    And has anyone noticed ridiculous bell sleeves are back? Perfect for dragging though the ketchup.

  21. I just went to a wedding a couple of weekends ago. My dress was one I'd bought in a boutique that's primarily aimed at the younger set. I love the dress. It's navy blue, not low cut & has 3/4 length open lace sleeves & lace over a navy shift. It's short; it would be too short if I was tall, but I'm 5 ft. 1 1/2 inches. My daughters keep telling me I have great legs, so I might as well show them off. The dress is also very comfortable. These days that's pretty important.
    Yes, I was one of those wearing very short dresses late sixties, early seventies, even in the winter. Luckily I had a full length quilted cape my mother made that kept me warm! I rarely wear dresses in the winter now.
    We should all wear what we like & not worry about the age thing. I've never been a person who had to buy the latest fashion. By the time I wore a midi-dress, they were almost out of style.

  22. Smithie, The Girl is a junior in high school - and has been in Catholic schools her entire educational career. She loves the uniform for the ease of daily dressing but feels exactly like you do when she's in her "leisure time" (except hairy shins drive her mad).

  23. I read that NYT article too. Aren't we a hand to draw too here?

    Last summer I bought a dress because I had an outdoor wedding to attend. Therefore I can say I own a dress. One. Suitable for summer only. But it's progress.

    Other high holiday occasions, I wear pants, although I haven't owned a suit since I retired. An advantage of retirement is that the office culture no longer dictates my apparel. It is shorts or crops in the summer, jeans or slacks in the winter, and shirts, tee shirts, sweaters, as the weather deems appropriate. I avoid hoods like the plague, although I do have an adorable down vest with one attached. No tights here but I have several sets of long underwear. Does that count?

    After half a dozen surgeries on my right knee, don't ask, it looks like a Laura Ashley creation, more tucks and ruffles than is ordinarily found in nature. So even summer shorts have to cover most of that. I've also lost 80 pounds in the past three years. My skin didn't get the memo, and I didn't lose one flabby inch of it. Therefore I cover up so as not to frighten the horses and small children.

    A year ago I got bored with my mousy gray hair and gave my hairdresser carte blanche. First he colored it purple. I loved it, but it was a temporary color, washed out after three weeks. Then he cut it short and spiky and bleached the bejesus out of it. I love being a platinum blonde. Think Catriona, only old and wrinkled and a bit long in the tooth. And I don't mind the roots that show after a couple of weeks. Think Madonna. This wild hair doesn't make me look a day younger, but it makes me feel fabulous. Think Iris Apfel.

    Isn't that the point?

  24. I love this discussion! I've always loved clothes and that hasn't changed as I get older. What has changed is that I'm more confident about wearing what's right for me instead of what some fashion pundit says is "in." I teach college freshmen, and I often see young women wearing trendy fashions that simply make them look dreadful. Every style isn't right for every woman, regardless of age. I never wore very short skirts because I don't have great legs, but if I had legs like Tina Turner, you'd better believe I'd still be wearing minis! One thing I'll never do is wear mom jeans--those baggy things with an elastic waist. I still look good in form-fitting jeans, and when I don't, I'll have to make a permanent switch to khakis or leggings :)

    Roberta, I like the LA wedding dress!

  25. Go for it, Smithie! I stopped shaving my legs in college (and that was a LONG time ago) and never looked back, wearing shorts and short skirts at my own pleasure. Except in New Orleans last month! As an author, I didn't want to add any shock value, and it was too hot for long pants, so I bought a razor. But luckily, hair grows. ;^) And I'm sure I've now added shock value to this post, but I'm too old to care.

  26. Last spring I purchased the perfect straw hat to wear to an outdoor college graduation and during the month I spent in New Orleans. Best investment ever, except for a perennial case of hat hair. I've become Miss Daisy.

  27. In this vein, I give you this article (profanity warning).

  28. Mary! SO fabulous. And oh, my gosh, Helen Mirren. I want that outfit. I would wear it right now. xoxoo

  29. I was so thrilled to see a picture of Iris Apfel here. She's my fashion idol!

    I think that it has nothing to do with age, but more with body changes. I never had trouble with my weight until menopause. I was always 36-26-34 with great (dancer's) legs. I wore everything that was in fashion, including bared midriffs, micro miniskirts, 4" heels, and the lowest hip huggers I could find. I miss those days......

    Alas, the only part of my body that's still great is my lower legs. Not the knees, unfortunately (I HATE the bare-legged fashion these days!), but the rest of my legs are still slim and well-toned. Because I gained 45 lbs. since menopause, I wouldn't dream of showing my tummy! I can't even imagine wearing micro minis now; my hips and knees are so stiff I can hardly bend over, much less squat daintily enough to avoid giving the world a show. A horror show!!! And heels? See the previous mention of hips and knees! I've discovered that my favorite look is oversized men's shirts in fun patterns, with leggings in a matching color, and a cute pair of ballet flats or kitten heels. My absolute favorite outfit is a pink pin-striped shirt with white leggings and a pair of white sandals. And I love to accessorize with lots of sparkly costume jewelry, ala Ms. Apfel!

    I guess my philosophy is: If you're comfortable showing what you're showing, if it doesn't physically hurt, and if you won't look back at pictures from your niece's wedding and say, "What WAS I thinking!", then by all means, wear it!!!

  30. As long as we don't end up looking like the "Don'ts" in the Glamour articles (do they still do that?), or a horror story from "People of Walmart", what's the difference? I do prefer to look as chic as possible on the rare occasion I escape my home uniform of jeans and tee or jeans and turtleneck, but that's my personal preference. It's more fun to dress up a little after days on end of the same old thing.

    It IS hard to find clothes that flatter, though! Why is that? I really like dresses, especially if I can pair one with a jacket, but it's nearly impossible to find one with sleeves. My untoned upper arms are one of my least favorite areas to bare, and I resent manufacturers saving money by leaving off the sleeves. So annoying.

    Rhys, you were smashing in NOLA in that gorgeous navy silk top and pants. Very elegant.

    Debs, love the mauve boots. London is the best place to buy boots, I think.

  31. Hank, I know right? That outfit on Helen Mirren is to die for! And you'd look fabulous in it.

  32. I love this discussion. 'Course, I also love clothes, so talking about clothes makes me a happy girl. Dresses - I LOVE dresses. So many cute ones out there right now. Dresses were all I wore while in New Orleans - it was SOOOOOO hot, so little summer dresses and a little straw hat and I was comfortable. And comfort is what it is all about, I agree. If you feel good in what you're wearing, you're going to look good, plain and simple. I am a firm beiever. And tights - oh how I love tights. And boots! oh, my I love boots. Hank, I remember the outfit you're talking about - the dress with the leather jacket and it was dynamite. I love mixing it up like that and have a long(ish) ecru lace skirt that I wear with a Ralph Lauren button up the front denim jacket. I love that outfit to the moon and back. I have, of course, had a moment of knowing, and knowing without a doubt, that I had tried on something that was way too young for me. I was shocked and appalled when I looked in the mirror, maybe a little sad for a few minutes, but I KNEW I was not going anywhere wearing this outfit that had me looking like Minnie Mouse.

  33. Kaye, you looked especially fetching in NOLA, too. You know what looks good on you, and you stick to it; I admire that!

  34. Like Julia, I had issues with my hair at a fairly young age. We have early gray in my family and I got SO tired of fighting it. When I stopped coloring it, it was kind of blonde/white at first (I was originally a red-head) and then turned completely white. It's funny because i can't even tell you the number of people (including one guy who owns a Paul Mitchell salon) who have told me I have beautiful hair. Huh? I still don't really get it because I would just love to have a hair color other than white, but it does make me feel better about not coloring it. I used to hate it when someone didn't look at me closely and offered me a senior discount, but now that I'm in my upper fifties, it doesn't bother me so much!

    When I was younger, I loved wearing dresses and skirts. Now. I rarely wear them. I've always had heavy thighs (another great heredity trait from the family!), so I've usually covered them up with tights or panty hose, but it just seems like too much trouble these days. I think that's the biggest difference, other than not going in for fads. I favor dressier t-shirts and colorful cardigans with dress pants for work and jeans for casual. It feels like a uniform, but that's okay these days. It's comfortable and it's me.

  35. I grew up in NYC/Long Island with a mother who worked for Saks - first at 34th St. and then when that store closed at Saks 5th Ave. So it was all about what "they" say to wear. I have never figured out who "they" are and I no longer care.

    I'm lucky to work out of our home so I pretty much live in jeans - I love the boyfriend jean which is not skin-tight - and Life is Good shirts - so comfortable and such neat designs. When I need to be seen by colleagues or clients I am dressed by Chico's and I wear pants or ankle-length skirts - and flats. I can't wear heels. I wear sandals as much of the year as I can and show off my polished and decorated toes. And Hallie, my feet sweat too. They say it's hereditary but since I'm adopted I wouldn't know.

  36. Oh, that moment -- we've all had it -- when we're looking through a rack and a sales clerk asks how old our daughter is. < sigh >

    My interest in clothes has ebbed and flowed over the years. Right now, I'm reclaiming summer dresses -- I'm up to 7, so watch out, Catriona! And if anyone looks closely enough at my R knee to see the 40 y.o. surgical scar, that's their problem. I got it honestly, testing myself on a ski slope. And I'm falling for pendants again these days -- just bought one in Seattle as a post-book launch prize, a swirled lime green glass marble flattened and circled in metal. Lime green is the new neutral!

    There is nothing quite so beautiful as an older woman who owns her life and her look, as so many of you do. Brava!

  37. And Roberta, I love your dress for the wedding -- it looks PERFECT, and you are glowing, which is always the best look!

  38. I say do it like Iris Apfel: patterns, color, funkiness while at the same time covering the parts you want to cover. She never shows skin. No need for skin when you know what to do with accessories. :-)

    Hair? I've been greying since my twenties too. Some of friends have started to let their grey show--they look great too. I'm not there yet, though. Interesting the fad for dying hair grey, don't you think?


  39. Lucy/Roberta - I LOVE your dress!!!! You look smashing.

    re hair? I am receiving more compliments on my hair at this stage of my life than ever before. I know my white/grey/silver/whatever it is isn't for everyone, but for me? Wish I'd let it go natural years before I did.

  40. If my hair were going solidly white/gray/silver I'd save the effort of coloring it. But it's still this weird mashup of brown and silver, and I think it looks mousy/messy so coloring it is for a few more years at least.

  41. Julia and Kaye Barley and Edith, your hair looks absolutely fab. But I'm with Mary Sutton. I am not going gray gracefully, as neither did my mother and grandmother. I am white at the temples and brunette everywhere else. Horrid. I recently found a pic of my mom at 80 and she still had only gone gray at the temples. (Her hair did eventually turn a lovely silver, but not white and she was close to 90 by then.) So I am loving my color and highlights, and count my lucky stars I have a terrific stylist. (She used to teach color for Toni & Guy.)

    And Ann, I LOVE you spiky streaky blond hair! You go, girl!

    1. Deb, your hair is a great color, and the cut is perfection. Now tell the JRs about that sparkley glittery nail polish. Green yet. Or was it blue?

  42. Great post! I think most women figure out by the time they're 35 that they don't want to look like a hooker (unless, that is indeed their profession) so we know to avoid too short, too bare, too tight. Beyond that women should be able to enjoy whatever style they feel good about themselves in. I still wear 4 3/4" stilettos every day and plan to continue forever! Go Iris!!!

  43. I think it's about not looking like you're desperately courting your lost youth--the outside so often reflects the person inside. If you can wear it with panache as part of your personal style, go for it. I'm in my 50s and I look up to older ladies whose style reflects their big, interesting personalities. I want to be them when I grow up!

  44. Terrific post and comments! Yes, let's all wear what we think looks best on us and dye our hair or not as we see fit. Myself, I'm loving my silver streaks.

    I've always been a fan of more "conservative" dressing (or maybe I just mean tailored) for myself so I haven't made much of a shift. I was wearing vintage jackets with my jeans in college! ["Vintage" sounds so fashionista - those days they were just second-hand.]

    In one of her books Edith Head says something about even gorgeous legs needing the kneecaps covered so she and Rhys are on the same page.

    Has anyone watched the documentary ADVANCED STYLE? Those ladies are definitely fashion inspiration!

    (I tried to post a comment earlier - sorry if this shows up twice.)

  45. Ann, my nails are gold:-) But that is a fun style thing I've adopted. I naturally have good nails but I'm very hard on them with the garden and especially the big dogs, so it is at least sort-of practical. But mostly just fun. It makes me happy to look at them. And I love my monthly nail salon visits. It's the one time I don't have to DO anything.

  46. I wear slacks nearly all the time. Even though I'm short, most dresses are too short for me and I am not comfortable with showing off my knees. My style is tailored/preppie and most of all, purchased on sale!

    My hair was prematurely gray, and after years of unwanted senior discounts I started coloring it about 24 years ago. I don't plan to stop! A couple months ago my hair dresser told me" you DO know that your natural color is now all white?" I wanted to say"so?" but I like her. I just said " yeah, I know!"

    Deb Romano

  47. Since I was a little child I have always loved makeup, hair products, fashion, jewelry--the works. So much fun. I worked in an extremely conservative organization throughout my government career, but refused to conform to the look that "serious" women sported. "Serious" was code for dull and frumpy. Now that I live on Cape Cod, I fight the battle against those who advocate "casual" masquerading as sloppy. Whatever they want to do is fine for them but I refuse to change what works for me. Until I swirl that final drain I will be shopping at Neiman's, buying new products, and trying to look my best. Personal pride dictates that for me and it is also consistent with the characters I write about.

  48. When I was a slim young thing, I used to love fashion. Then I went through a long period of only pants and dressing conservatively. Now I'm starting to enjoy dresses again, despite my large derriere. So I'm no longer a "panster."

    Deb, I love your new shoes. I used to have awful feet until I stopped wearing shoes that were supposedly good for me. Long live flip-flops!

  49. Have you ever noticed some of the dresses worn by the Duchess of Cambridge? She is young and beautiful, but her hemlines are just below the knee and sleeves to the elbow. She looks great. Try to find a dress like that for ordinary women.
    As to shoes, there is no reason that flats cannot be lovely. In general, older women have more money to spend on clothing than the kids, but no one seems to want out money, so we buy classic clothes, when we can find them, and wear them until the fall apart.